Friday, December 30, 2016

December 30, 2016

My kids are in their last day of art camp, so this is my last day to write without interruption.  I am feeling overwhelmed and unsure of myself.  I feel this heavy weight that sits on my chest.  My husband wanted me to go for a walk with him, but I told him I had to focus on my writing.  Now I am replaying the conversation in my head over and over.  Maybe I should have gone with him? This is my challenge that anxiety and depression throw my way (daily).  It is hard for me to understand what is the best choice for me in a given situation.  I struggle to make simple decisions usually.  I feel a heavy weight of anxiety on my chest because we have friends coming in today.  I am trying to tell myself to feel gratitude for this.  I am so lucky to have friends coming in to visit.  What is the worst that can happen, I tell myself?  They lived here before, so they know their way around.  It's just hard for me to be "on" all the time.  I need to retreat into myself sometimes to get the energy I need to be present.  I have been doing fairly well this holiday season in staying pretty stable.  It is very helpful to be around my husband.  I relax when he is there, and I know that I'm going to be ok.  I have also been running almost every day along with taking all of my medication to a "T".  I almost always do this anyway (the medication part- at least).

I am struggling to maintain the weight I have lost.  I have promised myself that I will not get above 184 pounds.  The lowest I have been is 180 pounds.  My weight is hovering around 183.6 right now.  I have been indulging in the holiday sweets, and I am struggling mightily with my will power today regarding food.  I am a recovering binge eater.  I don't usually admit that.  I think I have told my husband that information once.  I have improved significantly on that front since I became part of an efficacy study with Propel.  I have a health coach that I meet with once a week; I weigh myself first thing in the morning, and the results go to my health coach.  This keeps me somewhat in check.  I meet with her one week from now.  I have been in the study for about 90 days, and my binge eating has improved tremendously.  I have slipped up a couple of times.  Last night, there were cupcakes.  I had two, and I was about to have three.  Fortunately, the kids ate the rest of the cupcakes.  Eating sweets helps fill a void.  It tends to push down the anxiety and the fear a little.  It doesn't get rid of it.  It is a temporary fix.  As I write this, I am struggling with the desire to buy a treat at the coffee shop.  I'm not even really hungry.  I just want the sweet.  I don't know if I will be able to control the urge.

I was hoping to work on a pitch for a column I am going to try to get into.  Literary Mama is looking for new columnists.  To be accepted, I have to write a hook, a 6 month plan, and 3 columns.  That is a lot of work!  I can't seem to get in the groove for it right now.  I don't have to.  I have a job which I love.  I'm happy to focus on that right now, too.  I don't want to pressure myself to do something I can't do yet.  I was able to write my first entry for my Appalachian Trails Blog yesterday, and here I am writing on my personal blog.  I have to start somewhere.

What is my plan to do what I need to do to feel the way I want to feel today?  I need to focus on gratitude.  I feel so thankful for my daughter.  I feel gratitude for my son.  I am so thankful for my loving husband, my mom, my dad, and my brother.

I just talked to my husband.  We are going on a walk.  Then we are going for a healthy lunch.  I am doing this instead of eating an unhealthy sugary treat at the Coffee shop.  It's a small victory.  It will help my body adjust.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016

I have been enjoying Etta's Depression Marathon blog.  It is  I love this blog because it is so positive. She chooses each day to have gratitude.  I guess what I want to talk about today is where I am at today.  I am taking quite a few antidepressants every day. One of them I actually have to take twice a day.  This helps me emotionally, and I think physically.

I have had a difficult time forcing myself to get back into writing.  On the running front, I have been running for 30 minutes straight at least 3 times a week.  I have registered for a half marathon in New Orleans on February 5th.  That gives me exactly 6 weeks to prepare.  Over Thanksgiving I did a 10 mile walk run.  Let's be honest, I walked half of it.  That's fine, though.  I did it.  Today, I walked 3 miles; then I ran 3 miles back. Hurray 6 miler!  Tomorrow or Friday I am going to run at least 14 miles.  It is 4.39 miles away from Abita plus 3.55 miles.  This equals 15.88 miles.  I want to do at least 13 miles.  We shall see!  I think I will most likely do a big bike ride tomorrow. Then Friday I will do a big run on Friday.  This will be a walk/run.

Here is what I have been up to.  I joined Propel, a study at a local clinic which promotes healthy weight loss.  They actually pay me to do this.  I had to jump through a few hoops to get into the study, but that is all done now.  Now I meet with my amazing health coach once a week.  Each day I get on the scale and weigh in.  I have lost almost 30 pounds in 90 days which is amazing.  How did I do this?  It was painful.  I have to eat fewer calories than I  I was down to 180 pounds.  This morning I was up to 183.8.  I have decided that I will not get higher than 184 pounds during the holidays.  This morning, I had two whole wheat pancakes and a giant piece of carrot cake for lunch.  Yes, I tend to love sugar and carbs.  I think in order to get down to a healthy weight for my height (5' 7"), I am going to have to cut out sugar.  Yes...cut out sugar.  This will be painful.  I am obviously still not quite on track since this is during the holidays.  I will keep you posted.

I know this is a short post, but I have to get back on the horse somehow.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

July 29, 2016

It is Friday, July 29, 2016.  My summer is winding down.  I am a teacher, and I start school again on August 8, 2016.  I am actually looking forward to starting school because it helps balance my mood.  I do well when I am busy and have lots going on.  When I was in college, I tried to be as productive as possible to help combat my symptoms of depression.  I was extremely busy, and I didn't like it when things slowed down because my thoughts would be too overwhelming.

I am hoping that my husband will be able to take the kids to his mom's house to go swimming, so I can go to my favorite coffee shop and focus in on some writing. Let me be honest, lately I have been browsing different writing ideas and avoiding the actual writing part.  I am forcing myself to try to write for a minimum for 30 minutes.

This morning I woke up and went for a run with my friend.  Hurray!  It was a short run/walk of 3 miles.  We walked and ran it.   I haven't run in a few weeks, so it was difficult.  I've had worse, but it was definitely hard.

It is always hard when you have had any time off from running.

I want to share with you- my blog- what my major goal is this year, which is getting prepared for The Appalachian Trail next summer.  This summer, I hiked for 3 days on the trail with my husband.  We didn't do that many miles, but it was a start.  I am currently 200 pounds which is about 40 pounds from the highest my weight should be.  I'm 5 feet 7 inches tall, and the heaviest I should be is around 560.  I have seen a nutritionist once so far, and my second meeting is next week with her.  This will be the most difficult challenge I have ever taken on.  It is, in a way, even more difficult than dealing with the daily challenges of life.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 21, 2016

I just started work again, and it has been a blessing.  I am a teacher, and I have the summer off.  For someone with depression and anxiety, that is extremely challenging.  I struggled to manage my depression all summer.  I managed it ok, but there was rarely a moment that I was completely free of its grip.  Last weekend was the weekend before students arrived, and I felt so ill.

I told my husband, "Please help me make it through this weekend."

I have been in my element since school started.  It takes all of my attention and energy to memorize the 75 new students' names and to begin absorbing their personalities. We are off to a good start.  I was extremely exhausted this weekend.  Therefore, I allowed myself to nap on Saturday for one and a half hour.  This is always risky for me because usually I want to sleep all of the time because I am depressed.  I did not feel depressed when I went down for a nap, and I think it was due to the start of the school year.  I am trying to balance spending time with my kids, my husband, and preparing for my students.  For the first couple of weeks of school, there is no real balance.  I do have to put in extra work, but all of the teachers have to do this.  My family is also super busy and tired from starting school again.  My kids love school, and I teach at their school which is extremely helpful. We are all on the same schedule.

This weekend I did not have that aching feeling of trying to survive the weekend.  I knew how I would survive it: laundry, dishes, going to the pool with the kids.  I slept way too long last night, but I didn't let it ruin my day today.  I did manage to do 10 minutes on this intense stair climber in the gym.  I am going to use the stair climber to help me prepare for my AT adventure in June.

An update on my preparation for that trip.  I did go to a nutritionist two times.  She honestly stressed me out and made me cry (I never cry).  I cancelled my last two appointments.  I am running 3 times a week with my friend in the morning before school.  My final plan is to exercise for 2 hours a day (5-7AM)?  Wouldn't that be amazing.  I need the time to clear my head, be alone.  I feel that all of the little things make me extremely irritable.  If I have that down time to myself running with the ability to think, I believe it will make the irritations of life more bearable, and I will be able to float above it somewhat.

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 8, 2016

It is July 8, 2016.  I am in one of my favorite spots in new Orleans, Cherry's Espresso Bar listening to Pandora.  I am playing my Foo Fighters station, and the shop is not an arctic temperature like most venues in New Orleans because there are large windows soaking in the summer sum on each side of the shop.  This is another reason that I like this coffee shop.  I have to have sunlight shining on me in one way or another.  At home, it is me who is always pulling the curtains all the way open and opening the windows (even in the summer).  These small things improve my mental health in imperceptible ways.

I have just returned from The North Shore where I held one week of "Camp".  My daughter's best friend was there, my niece, and my son.  My mom and I lead the camp.  We went tubing, hiking, shopping, exploring, swimming, boating, and did pottery.  We watched movies, read books, played in the pond where frogs, tadpoles and fish were collected.  There were even leeches that only eat plants.  I am exhausted, but in that good way.  I just have to keep my mind on an even keel and remind myself that this is normal.  There is always a slight dip in mood when you finish a project.  At the end of camp, I find myself alone at last- in this coffee shop while  my husband takes my daughter's friend to the airport.  We have to go to an art opening at 5:30.  I am of course dreading this, but my rule to myself, is that I must participate in whatever we are invited to.  Oh curse those who invite!  The hosts!

I have made a secret appointment with a nutritionist who specializes in what I like to call disordered eating.  This is my second attempt at seeing a nutritionist.  I feel that I am ready this time to begin to talk about and face the disordered eating that accompanies my depression.  It helps me cope, it temporarily fills the void (especially chocolate), but I have no control over it.  Not if I am honest with myself.  It controls me.  The antidepressants I take also cause weight gain.  This is another issue, but it is also my disordered eating that creates excess weight.  I am now about forty pounds over the weight I should be (according to most standard charts).  I would be excited to get back to around 10-20 pounds overweight at this point.

I have put my phone far away from myself so that I don't have to talk to my husband who compulsively  calls me.  He has undiagnosed ADHD, and possibly oppositional defiant disorder.  Right now, I find him extremely trying since I haven't been running in a few days.  He is so anxious himself, and I simply hate to be around him sometimes.  I feel like we have been doing better as a couple.  I had been appreciating all of his good qualities, but this past week has been difficult.  He came to my camp, and seemed to need to control things.  He said I was "snippy" with the kids.  He helped cook food for the kids, but we honestly just wanted to eliminate messes sometimes and not have the entire day be about what he is making.  I sound extremely bitchy about all of this, and I am. There is no good reason for it.  I'm going to try to move on now because I don't want to put all of this negative energy out there.  I forced myself to ask about how his meetings went today.  That helped somewhat.  I asked him to leave his car unlocked so I could transfer my daughter's friend's luggage into the car.  He said he did, but he didn't.  His key is very finicky.  I asked him to please open the back.  He had to go through the process of unlocking the door again.  He opened the door by hand.  He did not try to help with the bags.  He got irritated when I tried to put the bags in a box he had in the back seat.  "That's for trash"    OK. It was a box that was almost as big as the back of the car, but ok.  I did my best to put the bags into the car.  He of course got in the way.  Do you see the extent of the problem?  I want to have control of my life.  I want to make my own decisions.  I do not want the male dominance to be over me at all.  Yet it is.  Sometimes I force myself to just listen to what he says, but I don't actually say what I'm thinking.  He is very argumentative.  His mother and father talk that way, also.  It is the way he was raised.  At the end of the day, he will usually go along with my ideas.  However, he will argue about it, he will discuss the different options, but actually do none of the options.  How I long to do it myself with no intervention from him or to be able to make a decision with someone, or just do what needs to be done and NOT discuss it.  Why discuss it?  What is the point even?

What a waste of time.  I don't like reading fiction either, or sports or games in general.  I know.  I know.  I find all of those things wastes of time.  All of them.

What is the point really, you ask?  Is there a point?  I just read an article in The New York Times about a woman who was talking about what was the point of men?  I get it.  I truly do.  There is always  a disequilibrium.  I can't just do what I want to do, physically, emotionally, etc, without the posturing, posing, etc. coming in.

I can't make up a fake conversation to pretend that I get the point.  What is the point?  I wanted so much to hike the Appalachian Trail for one week this summer by myself.  I was not able to do it this summer because of my husband.  Granted, we had a nice week together, but I needed that time for myself.  I will not have it again until next summer.

Now I need to move on, move on, and deal with the other stressors in my life.  They include other adults.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

June 29, 2016

My goal is to write for an hour a day (at least)- especially in the summer.  Yesterday I finished reading the entire book by Juliana Buhring about her bike ride around the world.  Here is her website:  My husband asked me, "When do you start school again?" when I told him about my plan to bike ride around the world.  He told me I should start riding to work first.  He has a point, I guess.

Today has been extremely serendipitous so far which is making me extremely happy.  I still feel that nervous part of my stomach which wants to take over (anxiety, depression, the space where you stare into space and tell yourself- my life is good, I'm ok- I'll be ok."  My new medication might be starting to work?  I hope so!  I was supposed to wait a week before taking one whole pill twice a day.  I couldn't wait because I felt just doing 1/2 a pill twice a day might make me wallow in depression for too much longer.  Today is the official day I should have  been taking the whole pill twice a day- so I'm a week ahead of schedule.  I'm sorry, but whatever it takes!

I have just arrived at a new coffee shop at 601 Baronne Street in the CBD called Rouler.  I'm listening to Fresh Air- Yeah Terry Gross!  I'm looking up information about the amazing Juliana Buhring and writing off and on.  What was so serendipitous you ask?  I woke up with Mario (my husband) with an hour to go before we needed to drop the kids off at zoo camp (9AM).  If you are a parent, you know how challenging this is- to get the kids ready in an hour.  We successfully got lunches packed (they packed them up themselves with a little help), water bottles, change of clothes, sunscreen, teeth brushed (maybe), hair even brushed (even Eli)!  I had my running outfit on, and I had already decided the day before.  Those of you who battle depression/anxiety know how important it is to make your decisions ahead of time!  If you manage to do that, it's much easier.  Then you can cross these things off the list as you do them.

So Mario dropped us off.  I got the kids to their zoo classes which they love.  Then I ran through Audubon Park while listening to "The Mental Illness Happy Hour", a podcast that is good and about Mental Illness.  It was a bit too dark for me today.  I felt like I have a handle on things and I want to have a fulfilling, positive life no matter what the challenges. Therefore, after running through the park, I found The West Wing podcast.  I immediately started smiling while listening to it.

I was running on St. Charles on my way back home when I ran into one of my friends who works at Tulane.  She's been doing research in Hong Kong, so I turned around and walked with her to her office so we could catch up.  What a treat!  There was also a great water fountain and bathroom for me to freshen up and keep running.  I would never be able to do all of that on a regular school day, so I was super happy to run into her.  I tried to practice mindfulness and be in the moment with her, too.  I told myself, "You are so lucky to run into a friend like that and walk to her office."  I sometimes put pressure on myself to be that person who sees her friends more, makes new friends, is in the moment, etc.  I tried to just appreciate what happened today and be happy for today in today!

My friend who I ran into does not struggle with mental illness, so I look to her like a model of how I could be socially.  She's amazing.  She had lunch/dinner with people in Hong Kong that she met through other contacts.  She stayed in an air BNB.  She took a dumpling making class while in Hong Kong.  I slightly compare this to myself when I went to NYC last year.  I did go to my classes, then to my room to lay down to get it together.  Then I forced myself to go out with other teachers and do things with them.  I didn't necessarily enjoy all of it, but I did it.  I did enjoy some of it.  I didn't just stay in my room by myself like I did when I went to DC for EQUIP.

I left Jana's office after drinking copious amount of water from the excellent water fountain right outside of her office.  If you have ever been running in New Orleans in temperatures as high as 90-100 degrees, you will understand the beauty of a good water fountain.

I walked to St Charles Avenue and started running as soon as I got to the same place I had stopped previously when I ran into my friend.  I ran for a few blocks and saw my husband pulled over on St. Charles.  By this point, I had run far enough to get the endorphins flowing which meant that I could stop and jump in the car with Mario.  His 10:00 AM appointment was cancelled, so he took me to a new coffee shop to get some coffee and a treat.  We ran into some students from my writing class from last week.  This is our second time running into them.  Again, I stopped and mentally thanked God and the universe for this.  It was wonderful to run into Mario, enjoy a few moments with him, and to see two colleagues from last week's class.  That makes four people I ran into today without plans.  It is a beautiful day.  Thank you, thank you!

Now I am at the new coffee shop where I ran into a fifth person, one of my students' parents where I actually originally found out about this coffee shop.  I am also down the street from my husband's office.  He may come by later if he has some time.  For all of this, I am thankful.  I think of myself like one of the characters in Walker Percy's The MovieGoer.  I am a little fragile.  I need help from around my city, from across the universe.  Here I get it.  It is so common to run into someone in New Orleans and have a nice conversation with them.  We stop, we talk, we engage in each others lives for a moment.  It reminds me of my time in The Republic of Congo.  When you would run into someone, you stop, you talk to them, you have a 20 minute conversation.  The conversations here are a little shorter than the ones in Congo, but much better than other places in the United States.

One of my colleagues might meet me here in an hour.  Then I pick up the kids an hour after that.  I drop them off with the folks, then I go home and straighten up.  Then I go out and visit a friend who is in walking distance from the house.  He will be at a restaurant and bar down the street doing a meet up.  All is well.

Love, Katy

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 28, 2016

Families, I'm reading a book about families right now.  It is intense, a true story of a brother with manic depression with psychotic features.  His older brother is trying to have some type of a reckoning with the situation since his younger one (George A) has died.  It is Barefoot to Avalon by David Payne.

It reminds me of the themes: family, siblings, mental illness.  It's good though I skip around for the parts I like.  I tend to do that sometimes.  For some reason, and I blame my depression/anxiety for this, it's hard for me to fully succumb to something I read.  I prefer nonfiction (which this book is).  I don't understand the point in reading fiction any more.  This makes absolutely no sense, and I understand that.But try explaining that to my brain.  It doesn't work.

It is summer.  My kids are at zoo camp this week.  My husband thought that would be a good idea so that I could get the house together, etc.  I have been doing ok, reasonably ok considering.  When I have too long to think without a required activity, it is hard for me.  I am avoiding the house and all of its implication.  It is so difficult for me to do the small things right now.  If I don't make the house look perfect, if I don't have a cute nook and cranny for studying, for playing games, to make our lives meaningful, our children's lives meaningful, I have failed.  My mom called this morning to try to schedule a time to help me with the house.  I couldn't commit to anything, and I told her some of my fears surrounding this.  I feel a little bit better since I explained this to her.  It makes my days more fluid.  It keeps me available to write, to read, to be productive in other ways?  To help my mental illness dissipate somewhat?!  I don't know if that's possible.  I have just changed medication regimens slightly, and I hope that it will help.  I think  it has helped somewhat.  I only slept about 10 hours instead of my usual 12 or more last night.  That is a great improvement.  I slept only about 8 the night before which is a miracle.  That is my goal.  I think I feel better and more normal when I do that.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

June 4, 2016

I want to introduce myself.  I'm Katy, currently a 43 year old mom, wife, and teacher. I have a wonderful husband who does all of the cooking (I know, I'm lucky).  I have two children, a girl who is 9 and a boy who is 7.  I live in a city that I love, and I know I could never live anywhere else.  That amazing city is New Orleans.  My parents and brother literally live blocks away from me, so I have a lot of help with my kids. 

I also have a history of depression and anxiety that runs in both sides of my family.  I am very strong willed and I work very hard to live the best life I can despite this depression.  I also take antidepressants every day which help, and I try to run as much as I can.  This helps me as much as the medication!  I need both of these things to help me do the best I can.  I think writing this blog will help me deal with some of my challenges that depression and anxiety bring to my life.  I also want more people to know that depression and anxiety is an illness that is out there.  When I keep it a secret, it has more power on me.  I want to be honest about what it is like living with depression.  This honesty, I hope, will help me continue to fight, and fight, and fight.